HELLO INTERNET FRIENDS! I am so excited to welcome Katherine Longshore today who is going to enlighten us all on one of my favorite topics: the hotties of history. She’s featuring Henry VIII today. So, let’s do this but first with this image in your head:
Historical Hotties: Henry VIII
Close your eyes and imagine Henry VIII. What do you see? A woolly, pig-eyed behemoth of a man dressed in velvet and dripping with gold? Kitty Tylney, in my first book, GILT, describes him this way: Dressed all in crimson and fur, he blocked out the sun, which created a halo behind him. I wondered briefly how many animals had to die to construct his ermine cape. He towered over the duke. And he was wide. It couldn’t all be fat, because he wasn’t round, just prodigious. And intimidating. He stood with his feet planted far apart and his hands on his hips, like Colossus straddling the entrance to Rhodes.
Sound about right? This is probably because we’re all so familiar with the image created by Hans Holbein late in Henry’s reign, when he was in his fifties and encumbered by years of belligerence and overindulgence.
Perhaps instead you envision Jonathan Rhys Meyers from the Showtime series The Tudors. Dark and sultry and devilishly handsome, with a wicked streak a mile long. This is closer to the truth of the king in his early years.
There was another Henry. A man, who at the age of only seventeen, became king of England. He was described at the time as “so very beautiful that it would become a pretty woman,” and that he had all “the gifts of grace and of nature.” He was an athlete and a dancer, a philosopher and a musician. A true Renaissance man.
Even in his early thirties, he would have been something to behold, at 6’ 2”, not at all fat, with scads of vivacious energy. Penetrating gray-blue eyes, vibrant red hair, a pleasant voice (though some said it was a little high pitched) and charisma to spare, he awed courtiers, charmed ambassadors and beguiled women. Anne Boleyn, in TARNISH, says it wasn’t the gold that dazzled me. And it wasn’t the jewels. It was the way he wore them. The way they fit the body beneath. Broad chest. Narrow waist. The hard edge of the muscles in his leg beneath the stockings. My limbs weakend at the sight of him. And then he spoke. Smooth. Delicate. Rich. As though his voice could melt in your mouth.
The belligerence of Holbein’s portrait and the wicked streak so elegantly portrayed by Meyers were part of Henry’s character, though, firmly establishing him as one of history’s bad boys at a young age. He invaded France early in his reign in a starry-eyed bid to reclaim the land won by his forefather, Henry V, reveled in the death of the Scottish king James IV and brutally re-conquered and repressed Ireland. He held his power firmly and closely, sweeping disagreements and skeptics out of his way with an often violent hand.
I like to believe that Henry loved as powerfully as he ruled—that he was passionate. He married Catherine of Aragon against his father’s wishes and kept her by his side when he was crowned. He changed religion (and the world) to marry Anne Boleyn, despite the protests of his councilors and his people (and poor Catherine). He waited seven years for her, his love and virtue never wavering. Henry wept when Jane Seymour died and mourned for two years. Of course, that passion mixed with violence also had brutal consequences—he wept and threatened to kill Catherine Howard when he learned of her adultery.
So was Henry VIII hot?
Would I wish him on my worst enemy?
I see him as a little like Michael Fassbender. Brilliant and beautiful and shockingly charismatic, with eyes so stunning you could lose yourself in them. But equally capable of the brutality of Fassbender’s character, Edwin Epps, in 12 Years a Slave.
Be sure to follow along with the rest of the blog tour for interviews with Katherine Longshore and more historical hotties!
Midsummer Romance Blog Tour Schedule:
Tuesday, July 8 – Good Books & Good Wine
Thursday, July 10 – Perpetual Page Turner
Tuesday, July 15 – Alice Marvels
Thursday, July 17 – I am a Reader
Tuesday, July 22 – Novel Sounds
Thursday, July 24 – Starry-Eyed Revue
Tuesday, July 29 – The Midnight Garden
Thursday, July 31 – Novel Thoughts
Thank you so much to Katherine Longshore for coming to dish with us about Henry VIII.
Be sure to check out and add Brazen to your TBR list:
“Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?”